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Showing posts from November, 2009

Japan Country

( B/W film, 125, 400, red filter, Olympus IZ-20)
This shot of an old wooden storage shack was taken somewhere along the West Coast of Japan, the Pacific Ocean side.

From where this wooden shack stands, tucked away in a grassy meadow, there are numerous small residences spread far apart from each other, many of which have only one occupant; perhaps an elderly person or two. They all own huge plots of land according to Japanese standards.

Even in this slow paced environment people still wake up at the crack of dawn to toil away in the fields. Most people out here get out of bed at 4:30a.m. sharp everyday. They eat a nice Japanese style breakfast, read a newspaper then head out to the garden and work until lunch. After lunch they head back out until dinner and then they call it a day at around 10p.m.

I recall one day while I was relaxing in an onsen in Nagano during this time of year, Autumn. Two older Japanese gentlemen entered in and greeted me. One of them asked me what I…

Micro-Urban Areas

Yokohama is the capital city of Kanagawa with a population of about 3.6 million, which makes it the largest incorporated city in Japan.Within Yokohama there are 18 wards, or micro-urbanized areas that have their own local governments.  I have lived in three of these wards; Naka-Ku, Isogo-Ku, and Minami-Ku.  Of the three wards that I like the most Naka-Ku would be regarded as the best.  If you live in Naka-Ku, no matter where in this ward, you should be no more than a 15 or 20 minute walk to Chinatown in Motomachi , Chukagai. I clearly recall nice pleasant afternoon strolls when I would walk out of my old apartment, head down the inclined slope, right down into Chinatown.  From door to door it would take me no less than 15 minutes and I would literally be standing in the middle of ChiTown.  Eat a quick power lunch ( buffet ) and then walk home and sleep it off.  Isogo-ku (“ku” means ward), was also a very nice area for me.  Between Negishi Station and Isogo Station you have buses and t…

Nipples in the Park

I shot this with a film camera, X-Pan B/W with a slight warm tone. 

Where I’m living now there’s an abundance of ripe middle aged Japanese mothers; my favorite, pushing their children around in strollers.  It’s nice sometimes to just go and sit down on my favorite bench which is situated right under a white birch.  Its leaves are too yellow and heavy for her delicate branches, so one falls on my head and then  a gentle breeze comes along and removes the leaf and down it falls to my lap and then down to the ground and finally resting near my foot.  I look up….

And two babies are being pushed along by a day care worker.   This is one of the cutest things I have seen in a long time. 

One of the nicest features about Japan is how much time and energy are invested in child development.  Children are all raised in a very nurturing and safe environment from day one.  They wear uniforms and  are taught do things in a group at a very early age.   Their whole world is exposed to beauty and l…

“Yoemon” Kawamura Brewery

It’s pronounced like this ( Yo-E-mon), and it’s from Iwate prefecture. I did a piece on this prefecture and another sake here

The brewery, like most sake breweries, has been around for centuries. The unique feature about this sake is the rice.    It’s called “Awa Yamadanishi” from Tokushima prefecture, which is located on the island of Shikoku. The capital of this island is called Tokushima, home of the famous festival called Awa-Odori.

For those of you not familiar with sake rice, Yamadanishiki rice is one of the highest grade rice grains you can use for brewing sake. Yamadanishiki rice is grown in many parts of Japan. The milling rate for the sake I am drinking now, Yoemon, is at 70%, which makes it a Junmai.  Table rice, the stuff you eat at home, is milled away at 10%, so minus all the vitamins and fiber, which are actually quite bad for a sake.

Iwate Prefecture is located way up in the northern part of Japan, on the main island of Honshu where the winter’s are extremely …


Mishima Yukio
His speaks in English
I have great respect for Mishima. I have  great respect for any man who dies for what he believes in, as long as it doesn't hurt others indirectly involved.  November 25th 1970 marks the day Mishima did what no other Japanese man was capable of doing then and now, and that is to die for something pure and righteous – a conviction, and ejaculatory culmination of sorts. Not like today’s Japanese men who would rather jump in front of speeding trains and inconvenience the commute of thousands of workers and students.   Or inhale poisonous gas fumes or go on a killing spree injuring innocent bystanders because nobody didn’t love him.

There used to be a principle, or a way in which a man could take his own life with dignity here in Japan. Japanese men of today have no such dignity and honor, yet they laugh at Mishima as if he lived in a fantasy world.

In my country we have our heroes, like Nat Turner and Malcolm X, ,so I’m no stranger when it…

My Neighborhood

I have a love hate relationship with Yokohama. For one, there isn’t much Soul here. You know, the old Japan feeling where neighbor greets neighbor….Here in Yokohama you’ll be lucky to get a greeting in the morning. People here tend to be a little cold and indifferent, unlike the other prefectures I’ve been to where most people are very warm, tolerant and hospitable. Yokohama has no identity and not very many Japanese people here have a sense of prefectural pride, not even Kanagawa pride for that matter. I also love Yokohama, too. I love its close proximity to other cities. Its vast mass transit network. It’s overall safety and convenience. The city also has a fairly diverse foreign population. The government also supports a large array of programs for the foreign community.So, in this blog post I decided to take some time out from my travels and appreciate my OWN city, where I live. Even with this love hate relationship I have with it. Why I like this city is exactly the…

Loving It

The smell of lemon grass and jasmine; sitting on the porch in his favorite chair and strumming along on his guitar some ancient tune; man’s best friend near his feet.  Looking from his porch he can see the vast expanse of green rolling hills and hamlets of Kentucky.   Wife’s in the kitchen  frying up something with a familiar smell; on his third can of ice cold beer.  He is buzzing.  The Mexican guy somewhere in L.A. just smoked a huge joint.  His eyes are glazed over and he’s suddenly hungry.  His mother just cooked up some tostadas.  He eats until his hearts content.  Goes back to smokin’  then breaks out a bottle of Tequila and calls his homeys over to talk shit.The black guy in the ghetto has a day off and it’s his payday.  He heads over to the store, buys a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor beer.   He chugs it down back at his crib(house).  He can’t decide whether to play the Delfonics or NWA, so he plays both and gets lost in the nostalgia of old high school memories and glory days…

Murky Waters of Thought

( Depth of Knowledge Strength of Knowledge and the Pillars of Truth )

Philosophy is the science of wisdom.   Actually, the literal meaning of philosophy is love of wisdom, love meaning “philo,”  and wisdom meaning “sophy.”   I chose philosophy as a precursor for this discussion  because modern day academia regards philosophy as a western convention only!

Although Eastern philosophy is studied in rigor and depth in American Universities, some academics do not regard Eastern Philosophy as a traditional philosophy, and in some instances,  has never been recognized as a true European style dogma  by a minority of Western academics, which could be taken to mean that people in Greater East Asia have either a different type of interpretation of wisdom or a lack thereof ….      It is because of this  by western academia that I believe the spread of Western fundamentalist thought has permeated the collective conscious in our time,  and has done more harm than good in the evolution of though…

Yamagata Masamune

This week’s nihonshu hails from Yamagata, a prefecture in northern Japan  known for its good sake, an excellent rice grain called Hainuki, and gorgeous onsen, especially during winter.Other things worthy of mention would be  my favorite Top Stops in Yamagata post which gives a little more detail about this part of Japan.  So without further ado I would like to introduce this week’s sake.The brewery is called Mitobe Sake Brewery in Tendou city, an area known for having blisteringly cold winters and excellent soba noodles.  Some of the best tasting  soba come from this part of Japan, a place that prides itself off of using its own homegrown wheat to make the soba.   The same can’t be said from other regions, especially in West Japan where most wheat is imported from Australia.  Tendou is famous for making true Edo style soba using the time honored tradition of hand rolling and making the soba from scratch.Anyway,  the sake this week is called, as the title says, Yamagata Masamune.  Ther…

Masterfully Made

Sitting down on her favorite couch in silence on a very quiet late weekday afternoon, not one single sound could be heard.  Almost suffocatingly quiet.

Then,  a faint hum of a washing machine cycle finishing penetrated her eardrums.    The smell of outside air still lingering from her purse and hair, hands still damp and cold, she reflects on warmer moister  memories of a time long gone.

Quietude in this sense can be so surreal at times. The ambient lighting in the room can at times evoke a trance like effect on the mind where the body is seemingly rendered paralyzed from the brain down. You move a finger down and around to make sure there’s still some sensation.  

I love a woman who can appreciate times like these, not busy bodies that have no concept of time and space.    Chaos and disorder seem to be there only connection with the world.  They seem to squander away every single opportunity for romance and intimacy to the point where sex is merely a process rather than a natur…

Kirei Sake Brewery (Kirei 亀齢)

Another very nice and well-rounded sake from West Japan.

This is a Junmai Ginjo, Nama Genshu. Junmai Ginjo means it falls into the premium class of labor intensive sake with rice that’s milled away at 50%. Nama, means that is a draft-style sake that is purified not by heat pasteurization but rather through micro-filterization. Genshu means it hasn’t been diluted with water which usually means that this sake has a higher alcohol content. The rice used is called Gouriki or in Japanese called 五拾(ご うりき)
What I like a lot about this sake is its full clean fruity textures and finish. I can taste hints of Muscat with deep undertones.
This afternoon, just before work, I ran over to Kimijimaya, my favorite sake shop, to pick out a good sake for this week. When I looked through the fridges I found one row of empty sake bottles, so I open the fridge door and poked my head in and located way in the back were two bottles left of the sake I am drinking now. I remember the week before a s…

November Edition: “Freedom”

Greetings & Salutations,
I was confronted the other day by a student over the question of "Freedom."   So, I had asked her to ask herself that same question instead of asking me.  She told me that freedom, in the sense that Japanese understand the meaning means, to her,  is when everybody gets along and when people can do whatever they want to do, whenever they want.     She goes on to say that the free flow of ideas and peoples opinions are more outspoken in America than they are in Japan and that this is what constituted what freedom is as a whole.   But I ask  myself, couldn’t  she do all of those things right here in Japan,too?
I have always questioned the notions of Japanese people about freedom in America, and I have yet to find someone with a rational and logical understanding of freedom.  Personally, I think the term is vague.  I think that freedom as a "principle" is a better way to understand what freedom is to millions of Americans rather than s…